When Paul Krugman Takes the Day Off, the New York Times Should Not Let Bill Kristol Fill-in

The latest worthless rant from Bill Kristol ends with:

Paul Krugman is off today.

This must explain why the oped had such a major boo-boo (to be explained in a moment). The oped goes off with attacking Obama’s patriotism for that pin issue. It is such a silly argument that I’ll leave to others to comment. Let’s take a look at some debate between Michele Obama and Mr. Kristol:

Michelle Obama’s adult life goes back to the mid-1980s. Can it really be the case that nothing the U.S. achieved since then has made her proud? Apparently. For, as she said later in the same appearance: “Life for regular folks has gotten worse over the course of my lifetime, through Republican and Democratic administrations. It hasn’t gotten much better.” Now in almost every empirical respect, American lives have in fact gotten better over the last quarter-century.

I’m outsourcing this one to Dani Rodrik who provides this chart:

It shows the median compensation since 1980 of different groups of prime-aged men, alongside productivity. People like me with graduate degrees have done great. But the median compensation (that includes fringe benefits, by the way) of high school graduate men has declined by about 10 percent since 1980! Mr. Kristol: that means that for a high-school graduate, the odds that his compensation would have fallen by more than 10% is 50-50. Note that even college graduates have not seen any income gains since around 2000. The increase in labor productivity has outpaced the earnings of all these groups, including that of workers with graduate degrees. (The outcomes for women have been much better.) What is special about the last quarter century, as Frank Levy makes clear, is that it followed a period when productivity increases were broadly shared by different groups in society. That is no longer the case, and some groups have definitely been left worse off–not just in relative but also in absolute terms. So statistics aside, who do you think has a better sense of what has happened to “regular folk” since 1980? Michelle Obama or Mr. Kristol?

Dani gave Kristol a C. I think that was a gentlemen’s C. Memo to New York Times – leave the economics to Paul Krugman. Please!